The fans and players were almost all gone but the shock still hadn’t settled in after Mynahan’s Lisbon Greyhounds pulled off a stunning 20-17 comeback win over St. Hilaire’s Winthrop/Monmouth Ramblers in the Class D South championship game.

Having just finished patiently and thoughtfully answering questions from the media, both coaches stopped to chat in the same end zone where Lisbon’s Noah Francis had scored the winning touchdown with 0.8 seconds left.

Two classy men who know and love football, who devote hours upon hours of their lives sharing their passion for the game with boys and young men, quietly paying respects and reliving a game that neither will ever forget.

No one who witnessed it will ever forget it, either. The game had more dramatic emotional swings than a toddler in a supermarket. It had four turnovers, countless fourth-down conversions and defensive stops; balletic catches and impressive feats of strength; and more drama in its final 16.4 seconds than this entire NFL season.

Speaking of dramatic swings, Saturday’s classic was the polar opposite of the teams’ meeting in Week 1 of the regular season. The Ramblers won 31-12 after roaring out to a 13-0 lead and draining the drama out of the game before the end of the first quarter.

The sting of that loss carried the Greyhounds through to Saturday.

“It motivated us a lot,” Lisbon senior center Devin Libby said. “We took a lot of pride in what we did today. We just wanted redemption.” 

“We lost the first game, and we weren’t happy,” Mynahan said. “We got on the practice field that next Monday and we ran. We’ve been running ever since.”

They ran on all 19 plays of an 8.5-minute drive to start the second half and turn a 3-0 deficit into an 8-3 lead. Even though Winthrop/Monmouth’s defense essentially shut down Lisbon’s running game in the first half, the Greyhounds stuck to power football and forged the quintessential Lisbon drive.

“That’s exactly what it was,” Mynahan said. “When we came out, we actually had two or three things that we wanted to run. But the first play we saw it go for 5 or 6 yards (to Noah Francis) and we said, ‘That’s it. We’re going to go with it until they stop it.'”

Running at 4 or 5 yards a clip, usually behind the left side of the line, they took control of the game in true Greyhound fashion. 

“I thought we were going to come out in the spread,” Lisbon QB Tyler Halls said. “But coach Mynahan said we’re going to go back to the power football, and it worked out.”

It wasn’t anything the Ramblers hadn’t seen before. In the first game, Lisbon put together an 18-play scoring drive to briefly get back into that game in the first half.

That drive wore down the Greyhounds, though, which played right into the hands of the deeper, more experienced Ramblers. They dominated the second half on that hot September afternoon. 

But this time, Winthrop/Monmouth didn’t have the same numbers advantage it enjoyed over Lisbon back in September. Its already depleted offensive and defensive lines suffered more casualties when Luke St. Hilaire and Morgan Bellemare went down early Saturday with apparent knee injuries.

“We were putting guys in there and they made plays and held their own, but it wasn’t the defensive line that we preferred to have for this game,” St. Hilaire said.

Despite their injury issues, the Ramblers rallied to retake the lead, 10-8. But this time, Lisbon had the will and the energy to answer and went on another 14-play scoring drive to regain the lead in the fourth quarter.

“These kids are in just fantastic shape,” Mynahan said. “Sometimes we do our pursuit drills in 45 minutes. It’s a lot of work, but none of them gives up.”

They certainly didn’t give up after Matt Ingram found Nate Scott, who himself had shaken off a mid-game injury to return, for an 18-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left.

“You got to give (Winthrop/Monmouth) all the credit. They really played their hearts out there,” Mynahan said. “I told Dave that when they scored, I said, ‘We’re not losing this game, Winthrop went down to win this game.'” 

Don’t mistake that as an acknowledgment of defeat on Mynahan’s part. The Greyhounds clearly didn’t. They went down to win the game with a miracle pass from Halls to Kurtis Bolton and a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Noah Francis.

In a matter of moments, the Ramblers’ sideline swung from the realization of a season-long, even life-long dream to shock and disbelief. 

Amdist all of the confusion and emotion, St. Hilaire needed to find something to say to his team, much like Mynahan had done on the other side of the field.

Not surprisingly, he rose to the occasion.

“I just told them that to come back from adversity, with the injuries we had and fourth down, just to come back. It’s a testament to their character. I wanted to point out that they never gave up and that’s how they should approach life … give yourself a chance,” St. Hilaire said. “I don’t know if they heard it or not. There were a lot of tears going.”

Even in a moment of triumph that will stand out in his distinguished 30-year career at Lisbon, Mynahan could still, not surprisingly, express some empathy.

“I’ve never really been a part of a game that’s ended that quickly one way or the other. Very happy that it went the way it did today. But, you know, I also as a coach think about how badly the Winthrop kids feel right now. They had a great ride,” he said.

Those fortunate enough to be at Maxwell Field on Saturday saw a game for the ages, a game that had everything, including a winner and a loser who both exhibited courage, grace and dignity.

Both were reflections of the men who lead them, men who met on a football field in our little corner of the world and congratulated each other for bringing out the best in each other and those who follow them. 

As Maine goes …?

Randy Whitehouse is a staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @RAWmaterials33. He can reached at [email protected]

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